How to Make a Shortening Pie Crust by Hand

This simple, easy recipe makes a single 9-inch (23-cm)-diameter pie crust. One and a half recipes should do for a covered pie such as a lattice top crust, or for pie crust art.

What you need to make a shortening pie crust by hand.

Shortening is in the aluminum box (top-center). Note the pastry blender (wires with a wooden handle, top-left).

Quantities for one recipe are given first, with numbers for 1-1/2 shown in parentheses and italics after.

Ingredients (US measures) 1 recipe   1-1/2 recipe
Shortening (Crisco, etc.) 1/2 cup (4 oz/113g)   3/4 cup (6 oz/170g)
Flour 1-1/2 cups (175g)   2-1/4 cups (293g)
Salt Dash (1g)   Dash (1g)
Ice water 3 Tb (45ml)   4-1/2 Tb (68ml)

Sift the flour (with a sieve or a flour sifter) and then measure it. Resift it into a bowl along with the salt. Add the shortening and use a pastry blender to mix it with the flour until it’s the size of small peas. (If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use two forks or your fingers.)

Using your fingers, mix in the ice water, 1 tablespoon (15ml) at a time. Mix just until it holds together, only a few seconds. Press the dough into a flat disk using your hands.

Sprinkle a little flour on a cool, dry surface and place the dough on it. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough. Rub a little flour onto the rolling pin so it won’t stick.

Roll the dough in a rough circle a little larger than the diameter of your pan. If the dough sticks, sprinkle on a little more flour.

The dough should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3.2 to 6.35 mm) thick.

Use a spatula to loosen the dough from the surface, and fold it in half and then quarters to make lifting it easy.

Place in the pie pan, unfold, and press to shape. If you’re so inclined, use your fingers, a fork or a pastry wheel to make a pretty edge on the crust.

Making the top crust

Between your hands, shape the remaining dough into a flat disk, then roll it out as above. Determine how big to make the crust based on how much fruit you’ve piled in the pie. Place the dough on top of the fruit and seal the edges by crimping the bottom and top crusts with your fingers.

If you want to make it fancy, cut out some shapes (holes) using a knife or cookie cutters before you put the crust on top; otherwise, just cut some slits in the top to allow steam out, or use a cute pie bird for this purpose.

Alternatively, you may choose to do a lattice crust or pie crust art.

Tips from Jane

Pie crust is very forgiving. If yours tears or splits, as mine often does, just patch it together with your fingers or a little bit of dough. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little bumpy or uneven—after all, it’s going to be covered with yummy filling! You don’t want holes in the crust, however, as that could allow the filling to seep underneath.

— For this recipe, do sift the flour as directed. This tends to lighten the flour. I recently tried this crust without sifting the flour, and it didn’t come out as well.

Crimping the edge to make it look nice isn’t hard. Just use your fingers to shape small indentations, working your way around the crust. You can also use the back of a fork or a pastry wheel to make an edge.